Tooth & Nail has been broadening their horizons even more lately. Though they're still mainly a punk and alternative label, they've also (somewhat) recently have signed bands like mediocre-rock band Since October, the bizarre music of Neon Horse, and the soulful southern sounds of Corey Crowder and Surrogate. You have to give the label props, for keeping true to its purpose and signing artists that aren't just your typical run-of-the-mill stuff (as was Brandon Ebel's intention in the beginning). Last year, the label released the debut album from its first praise and worship band, The Glorious Unseen. This year, the band recorded five acoustic renditions of songs from their debut, Tonight The Stars Speak, as well as two new tracks. The digital EP, entitled The Cries of the Broken, is intially being released through iTunes, and is being released under BEC Recordings.
The acoustic songs are up first. "Wrapped Up In You" and "Hear Our Prayers" utilize an acoustic guitar in a very simple yet beautifully-played manner. "Burn In Me" slows down noticeably with soft piano driving the song, and "Tonight The Stars Speak" picks back up a tiny bit, using all of the standard acoustic instruments (guitar, piano, quiet drums and even a cello). The same feel continues into my personal favorite from their debut, "Forever Holy." The songs translate well into the acoustic format, bringing a more emotional feel to it, and the integrity of the music is never really compromised. The Glorious Unseen still does praise and worship music better than most of the staple CCM worship bands that top the charts. The only bad part about these acoustic songs is that they make Ben Crist's voice a little bit harder to handle. The unpolished and shaky vocals are part of what made The Glorious Unseen so unique for a worship band, but with the acoustic versions being less polished than before, the vocals sound a little weaker.
After the acoustics, The Glorious Unseen presents us with a newly-written and recorded song, "Your Promises Still Remain." The sound is similar to one of the more upbeat songs from Tonight The Stars Speak. At first listen, the song doesn't really shine that much, but after a couple listens, it's actually just as good as anything from their first album. The lyrics are somewhat simple, but honest, and don't really ever come across as too cliche like most worship bands tend to nowadays. "The veil's ripped away, we have communion...broken away, the chains that restrained me...with tears straining down my face, I will praise You, hallelujah hallelujah." They end The Cries of the Broken with a remake of the Steve Hindalong / Marc Byrd penned "God of Wonders," which has been redone by many praise and worship bands since its original appearance on the City on a Hill compilation in 2000. "God of Wonders" is done nicely, in true TGU fashion, and makes a great end to the EP.
While The Cries of the Broken isn't exactly the same songs as before, it still almost feels like a re-release. And as we all know, a re-release is generally a bad move by the band and/or record label. Unless there's something new on the disc that just completely blows everything else away, it almost feels like a rip-off to the consumer. Fortunately, making the re-released songs into acoustic versions helps out a lot, and since they're done so very well, it doesn't come off as a rip-off at all. Adding to it that we get two new great recordings from the band - and that it's only $5.99 on iTunes - it's safe to say that this is definitely worth the buy. Now we can just look forward to the next full-length offering.- Review date: 11/13/08, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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